Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the ECAC Tournament.
The Denver Pioneers are one of the most-undervalued teams in the country, which probably makes sense as the Rocky Mountains are scientifically proven to stop Eastern brainwaves from penetrating their high peaks. You can look it up in science books, I swear. Denver has the coach, the attack, the midfield, and maybe even the man between the pipes necessary to make another run at Championship Weekend, assuming, of course, they even catch the break they need to get into the NCAA Tournament. The pressure is on the Pioneers this week, and if their game against Duke last Friday is any indication of their capability, Denver is ready to make a charge at bracket real estate.
Anyway, here's the heat on the Pioneers.
Denver Pioneers: Four-Seed
|BIG STATS||PACE STATS|
|Record||8-5 (3-3)||Clear %||83.26% (37)|
|Adj. Off. Efficiency||37.18 (2)||Opp. Clear %||82.25% (21)|
|Adj. Def. Efficiency||26.92 (19)||Faceoff %||60.63% (4)|
|Poss. Percentage||53.34% (4)||Pace||63.55 (43)|
|Off. Poss./60 min.||33.90 (22)|
|DEFENSIVE STATS||Def. Poss./60 min.||29.65 (6)|
|Saves/Def. Poss.||0.33 (22)||OFFENSIVE STATS|
|Opp. Sht. %.||26.32% (16)||Goal Differential||+49|
|Opp. Effective Sht. %||26.68% (16)||Shooting %||33.19% (5)|
|Def. Assist Rate||12.79 (8)||Effective Sht. %||33.58% (5)|
|Man-Down/Def. Poss.||0.06 (3)||Assist Rate||22.37 (9)|
|Man-Down Conversion %||36.00% (38)||EMO per Off. Poss.||0.10 (36)|
|Man-Down Reliance||0.08 (9)||EMO Conversion %||24.44% (51)|
|C/T per Def. Poss.||0.24 (23)||EMO Reliance||0.07 (56)|
|Turnovers/Off. Poss.||0.45 (21)|
|Opp. Saves/Off. Poss.||0.26 (5)|
Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:
- Mark Matthews, Alex Demopoulos, Eric Law, Jeremy Noble, Wes Berg, Cam Flint . . . these are names that make opposing defenses wish they had taken up an athletic pursuit a little less traumatizing than trying to stop those guys, like trainspotting or something. Denver's offense remains among one of the nation's most efficient -- currently ranked second nationally at 37.18 goals per 100 offensive possessions -- and in large part it's for two reasons: The Pioneers can the bean at and incredible rate (33.19%) and share the bean as well as anyone in the country (the team's offensive assist rate is ninth-best in the country at 22.37). It's a hybrid Canadian-American offensive scheme, full of two-man games and individual finishers that have one end-game in mind: Dynamiting opposing goalies. It's an offense that goes when it wants to -- it's especially dangerous when Chase Carraro can win at the dot and immediately ignite transition -- and there are few offensive units nationally that can keep up with the Pioneers. What really invites danger for Denver's opponents is that the Pioneers play about four more offensive possessions per 60 minutes of play than their opponents. When an offense as efficient as Denver's can possess the ball more than their opponents, it becomes that much more of a score-and-chase kind of game, something Team Tierney covets.
- I wouldn't worry too much about Denver's man-down conversion rate. While the conversion percentage isn't all that hot and among the bottom third in the nation, there is a mitigating factor here that's a little more controlling: Only three teams commit fewer penalties than the Pioneers on the season and only two teams play in man-down situations less than Denver. That kind of discipline pays dividends as nobody ever got anything other than a spanking for being a bonehead. Staying out of defensive personnel imbalances also serves another positive for the Pioneers: They can insulate freshman Ryan LaPlante from inherently negative circumstances. Now, LaPlante has been playing fairly well, but freshman are still freshman and the easier the game is made for them -- as in, not making it impossible -- the better the results in the overall.
- As noted, Denver sees its greatest value when it can dominate the possession margin in its games; it allows the Pios to utilize its offense to drive results rather than relying on a somewhat inefficient defense (Denver's defense is only ranked 22nd nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency) to carry it to victory. The problem for the Pioneers in the ECAC Tournament, though, is that it is potentially facing two teams -- Loyola and Fairfield -- that are among the nation's best in possession margin. (Loyola is third in the country at about plus-five possessions per 60 minutes of play; Fairfield is ninth at about plus-four possessions per 60 minutes of play.) If Chase Carraro can continue to draw somewhere around his 62.6 percent mark on the season -- that if is bigger than the Obesity Festival champion -- Denver can put itself in a nice position to move the area of play in its favor. If the Pioneers can also shore-up its clearing game (the Pioneers are only clearing at an 83.26 percent clip on the season), it can provide itself a higher value of offensive possessions while also limiting potentially unsettled, preferential, and additional offensive possessions for their opponents. The key, obviously, is to limit exposure to that Denver defense through additional offensive possessions, and the Pioneers are going to have a tough time accomplishing that this week due to how well their opponents capitalize on these opportunities.
For more on Denver's opponent -- Loyola -- check out the Greyhounds' profile here.